Perforator Vessel Recipient Options in the Lower Extremity: An Anatomically Based Approach to Safer Limb Salvage
When free tissue transfer is employed for defects of the lower third of the leg, recipient anastomoses are typically performed to major vessels. The aim of this study was to assess soleal perforators located in the distal half of the leg as potential vessels for free flap recipient vessels. Six fresh cadavers (12 limbs) were dissected. Perforators of adequate size (>or=1 mm) were documented as was the location and ease of dissection. Lower extremity magnetic resonance angiograms (MRAs) of 18 extremities were retrospectively reviewed. Two free tissue transfers to lower extremity perforators were presented. Soleal perforators most reliably matched our recipient vessel requirements. Perforators were of adequate size to support free tissue transfer, easy to dissect, and were located at mid/distal fibula level. MRA evaluation confirmed these results. One free tissue reconstruction was performed for trauma (posterior tibial perforator) and one was performed for a chronic radiation wound (peroneal perforator). The soleus muscle is easily exposed and is supplied distally by perforators from both the posterior tibial and the peroneal artery systems. These perforating branches are more accessible than the major lower extremity arteries, making the exposure and anastomosis technically easier and sparing potential iatrogenic injury to critical vessels.
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